Thirty-two composers, conductors, performers, scholars, patrons, critics and others integrally involved in the American classical music milieu offer perceptions, criticisms and praise in assessing the music world and their experiences.
In their introduction, the authors - he's a sociology professor, she's a freelance writer on music - present this collection of 32 interviews as a sociological document about classical music-making in America, one that will illuminate such themes as "socialization," "mobility" (horizontal and vertical), and the European Connection. And they are scornful of the many "uneven compendia" already on the market. But the first-person discourses here - "painstakingly assembled out of taped and transcribed, three-way, open-ended interviews" - are no more focused than most such transcriptions (some ramble badly) and, presented without commentary, they don't consistently relate to the Rosenbergs' issues. So what we have in fact is an uneven compendium - though more varied that most, including composers, critics, performers, managers, teachers - and only a few of the selections rise above the and-then-I-did sort of mini-autobiography. But Aaron Copeland is reliably articulate, Eileen Farrell is dependably irreverent, and readers with specific musical interests will find informative, inspiring passages among the detailed words of Milton Babbitt, Michael Tilson Thomas, Claudio Arrau, Dorothy Maynor, Edward Dowries, Larry Adler, Rudolf Bing (nothing he hasn't said before), and two dozen others. As a concept book, however, it makes no sound, let alone music. (Kirkus Reviews)